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Full text of "Speech of H.M. Brackenridge, delivered in the Young Men's Convention, September, 1838"

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S. G. and E. L. ELBERT 


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Jit JlUummam 






Young Men's Convention, 






Fellow Citizens, Delegates of Pennsylvania — 

Yes, fellow citizens, I address you, as the repre- 
sentatives of Pennsylvania, and not as the repre- 
sentatives of a party in the State. I see before me 
men from every county, township, town and city, 
of Pennsylvania, and men whose intelligence and 
respectability satisfy me that mind meets mind, 
and heart meets heart, animated with one senti- 
ment, one resolution, for the rights and honor of 
our State, first of all; and next for the maintenance 
of our federal Constitution in its true spirit and 
within its true bounds, as the best security for our 
prosperity and happiness. I see bef -re me in the 
many thousands who compose this assembly, a 
number equal to that of the democracy of Athens, 
over whose heads Demosthenes rolled the thunders 
of his eloquence; would that I had the voice of a 
trumpet, and the thoughts of an angel, that I might 
speak in a manner worthy of the occasion! 

There are times, fellow citizens, when States and 
Nations should awaken ; and where in such extre- 
mity there is no other remedy, it will be sought 
through the terrible convulsions of a revolution. — 
Thank God, no such occasion yet exists in this fa- 
vored country. I am not one of those who depre- 
cate the existence of party as an absolute evil ; it 
is in some measure necessary to the purity and 
health of our free institutions. But there are pe* 
riods when the State, the nation itself, must arise, 
put an end for the time to party, in order to re- 
store the Constitution to its purity, where it has 
been practically overturned by the corruptions of 
its administration. The opposing numbers arrayed 
against this rising of the people in their majesty, 
ceases to merit the name of a party; it becomes a 
faction, which in the course of things must be 
scattered and dissolved. That there is at this mo- 
ment such a necessity, and such a rising, must be 
clearly manifest. When I survey this vast assem- 
blage of chosen, intelligent, respectable, yirtuous 
citizens, representing in their primitive capacity a 
million of people, who, if it were possible, would 
be present themselves — when I see the indications 
of popular rising in almost every stateof the Union, 
I cannot doubt the fact of such a necessity. Men 
of Pennsylvania, this is no slight rippling on the 
surface of the waters — the mighty billows of the 
ocean itself have been lifted up before the coming 

Although professedly a Convention of the young 
men of Pennsylvania, you have received among 
you many of the elder citizens, so as to combine the 
advantages of age for counsel and of youth for ac- 
tion. To you, young men of Pennsylvania, the 
duty must be especially assigned, to rescue the ark 
from the hands of the Philistines; to place it in 
safety, and to guard it as the most sacred charge 
in future. Unlramelled by the prejudices, pride 
or interests of mere party, you are moved only by 
the pure love of country, and the generous desire to 

The array of freemen of Pennsylvania, over 
which I p.iss my eye with the swelling pride I can- 
not but feel as an American citizen and Pennsyl- 
vanian, is indeed most encouraging, most cheer- 
ing. I may safely say that nothing equal to it 
has ever been witnessed in this Stale, and nothing 
superior in the Union. I will not be so illiberal 
as to deny that there will be many worthy and re- 
spectable citizens in the projected Convention in 
this city, on next Monday; but I trust that before 
October the greater part of them will be found 
with us — that they will leave the (action wl i^h 
does not rise to the dignity of a party — that they 
will leave the faction, and join the standard of thtir 
country. 'Your Convention,' said one of them to 
me, 'is certainly very respectable, but wait until 
Monday, and then you will sue a show 1 Most un- 
lucky expression, and most true! The age ot hum-* 
bugs, of deceptions and impostures is not yet pass- 
ed. The office holders of the general government 
and their numerous dependants and retainers, 
drummed up by their mercenary hireling presses, 
will leave nothing untried to make up a show, but 
it will be like the show sometimes seen at the thea- 
tre, where its retainers and its actors with a crowd 
engaged for the occasion, are marched across the 
stage to represent the grand army of Alexander 
the Great! No, fellow citizens, it will not be the 
people, it will not be the real democracy of Penn- 
sylvania. I have now before me the true democrat 
cy, the people of Pennsylvania. 

I see before me those who have belonged to that 
once powerful party, but who were compelled to 
leave it at different periods on account of the mis- 
deeds of its leaders. That party, from a majority 
of fifty thousand in this State, is now only strugi 
gling for existence; but it must share the same fate 
as in New York, its strong hold, as in Virginia, 
Ohio, and other Stales; for revolutions never go 
backward — their movement is always onward — you 
might as well attempt to stay the current of our 
rivers or the waves of the sea. I see bofore me 
original democrats, original federalists and origi- 
nal Jackson men, who supported the election of 
Jackson, but who felt themselves bound to abandon 
his administration, at different periods, as its dis- 
astrous experiments were developed in succession. 
Some of you left him when be asserted that pirati- 
cal system of the spoils of office, in its tendency so 
corrupting to the wholessme blood of liberty, and 
which created that tremendous power that is now 
attempting to make itself independent of the peo- 
pie; like the thirty tyrants of Athens, presenting 
the alarming spectacle of the people contending 
against their own servants, who aspire to be inde- 
pendent, by making a corrupt use of the public of- 
fices and the vast influence attached to them, in 
order to become our master. Some of you left 
Gen. Jackson when he exhibited that most dis- 
graceful scene of wickedness and corruption,unex«i 

[ 4 ] 

his war against the Bank of the United States, wa- 
ged because he could not make it an engine of po- 
litical power; and you foresaw and foretold in it 
the destruction of a sound currency, the derange- 
ment of trade and industry, the unlimited increase 
of banks and bank paper, and the harvest for sha- 
vers, brokers, money dealers and gamblers. Others 
left him when he removed the deposits, thus "as- 
suming the responsibility of trampling under foot 
the constitution and the laws, and then spurning 
with contempt the thousands of petitions which 
were humbly laid at his feet! Others could not 
6tand the specie circular, which opened the door 
to vast speculators in the public lands by the gov- 
ernment mercenary retainers, and brought about 
the suspension of specie payments by the bankr. 
There are some here who even stuck to him to 
the last hour, even after he had spurned the law 
repealing that infamous circular — a law, passed 
almost by a unanimous vole of both houses of 
Congress, and which he could not veto, excepting 
by this new mode of not acting on it at all. Some 
cf you even gave your votes to elevate his succes- 
sor, Martin Van Buren, but could not coniinue that 
support longer than the year. You could not ap-> 
prove the detestable, the audacious Sub Treasury 
Scheme, giving the power over the public money 
to the Executive by means of officers dependent 
on it; thus rendering the chiefs and their hirelings 
independent of the people, and avowing the insult- 
ing distinction of a sound currency for the public 
servants, and an inferior one for their masters. — 
Thus, the people represented by this assembly con- 
sists perhaps for the greater part of those who 
once sustained General Jackson and his successor, 
but whose better judgments, whose sad experience 
and love of country, will permit them to sustain 
them no longer- Am I wrong then in saying that 
you do not represent a party, but" the People of 
Pennsylvania — no, I am not wrong, I speak the 
words of incontrovertible truth. There are others 
that are not yet with us, but they will be with us; 
for they will not st.nd the last measure of insult in 
the attempt to give us a Governor from Washing- 
ton, and a Governor of whom every Pennsyivaniun 
must be ashamed. 

Fellow-citizens, yesterday morning, after walk- 
ing some eight or ten miles in advance of the crow- 
ded boat, I stopped at a house on the side of the 
canal, and called for breakfast. The good woman 
after handing me a cup of coffee, asked tho mean- 
ing of so many people repairing to Pittsburgh — 'It 
did not used to be s<>,' said she, 'and I do Dot under- 
stand it.' 'Madam, 1 will explain the matter. The 
State of Pennsylvania has been sick, but is now 
well again, and is going abroad a little for the ben- 
fit of her health!' Yes, fellow-citizens, the doctor 
and the apothecary are dismissed, wc are about to 
take care of ourselves, and the first thing will be to 
take some nourishing diet. Nay, our stomachs 
have become so good, and our digestion so much 
improved, that I believe wc may even venture with 
safely on a dish of sour crout, with a bit of Dutch 
hog on the top of it. Yes, lellow-citiz'.ns, it is high 
time to think and act for ourselves; to look at the 
contents of the box. instead of being satisfied with 
the label on the outside, however inviting and plau- 
flibje it |nav seem. 

der to declare whether you will continue in office, 
your present chief magistrate, Joseph Ritner, or 
whether you will choose another in his place; but 
there is also a deep and pervading feeling, which 
proves that other subjects are connected with it, of 
greater magnitude. If Joseph Ritner has done 
well, why should he be rejected? Men of Pennsyl- 
vania, let us bring the claims. of Joseph Ritner and 
David R. Porter to a summary trial; let us try them 
by the motto of our State, by the words on the flag 
which waves its azure folds over our heads, in em- 
ulation as it were, of the canopy of unclouded blue 
under which we are assembled, for the very heav- 
ens appear propitious to our cause. The golden 
words you read are Virtue, Liberty and Independ- 
ence. Is there any one so bold, so regardless of 
decency and truth, as to question the virtue of Jo». 
seph Ritner? From a poor boy, early depending on 
his own exertions, he ascended with increasing 
honor and respect through all the gradations of 
society, to the highest office in the State, and this 
through intrinsic merit, and not as the tool of a 
party or parly leaders, or as the sycophant of those 
in power. By honest industry and labor, he ac> 
quired a moderate independence, enough to satisfy 
a man of unambitious desires— he attained that me- 
dium between poverty and riches which Solomon 
himself approved, and which every man with so*, 
briely, common prudence, ordinary good fortune, 
and ordinary industry, may reach in this happy 
land. Riches and poverty are but relative terms — 
one man may be poor with the wealth of a Girard, 
another, like Cincinnatus, may be rich with four 
acres of ground. Ritner, in the estimation of ma 1 * 
ny, would still be regarded as a poor man, but that 
kind of poor man admired by the immortal Burns. 

"What tho' on homely fare we dine, 

Wear hoddingray, and a' that; 
The honest man, though e'er so poor, 

Is king o' men for a' that." 

Some may be a little richer than others, but no man 
in this conntry ought to be willing to be placed on 
the poor list who can earn an honest living. His 
little independence Ritner acquired by hard labor 
at the plough, at the loom, and by driving his wag- 
on; but his only true riches consist in a character 
which stands unblemished and unimpeached to the 
present moment. His friends are not compelled, 
on his account, to cast aside all decency and shame 
by the disgraceful declaration that no matter how 
depraved he may be in private life, they wilivote 
for bun for public office tor the sake of the party. 
But this is not all." Let mc ask whether Joseph 
Ritner, who was repeatedly elected to represent 
one of the most intelligent counties in the State in 
the General Assembly, and was unanimously elect 
ed to preside over that body, could be other than a 
man of highly imjrwed and well stored mind, as 
well as possessed of weight and dignity of charac- 
ter? No— allhough self taught, his mind was well 
stored with knowledge from books, without the aid 
of college professors. He knows the value of edu- 
cation, and he has done more to promote that cause 
in this Slate than all our Governors put together. 
The life of our great Franklin, one of the most on- 
lightened men that ever lived, shows what may bo 
accomplish', d by him who desires to rise above the 

[ 5 ] 

Franklin and Ritner for the encouragement of the 
true democracy of merit, and to you, young v men, 
farmers and mechanics, do I most especially com* 
mend them 

V\ ill any one deny the claim c.f Ritner to that 
golden word Virtue — virtue in private and in pub- 
lic life? Is not the word Independence applicable 
lo him? As a statesman, wc have seen him stand 
up for Pennsylvania when the Federal Administra- 
tions of Jackson and Van Buren attempted to en- 
croach on her rights of sovereignty, by interfer- 
ence with our elections and legislative acts. It 
Pennsylvania chose to charter the Bank of the 
United States it was no business of the officers at 
Washington, and Rilnei told them so. We might 
differ among ourselves as to questions of expedi- 
ency, but is there any one here who will counte- 
nance the interference of the General Govern- 
ment in our local concerns? If there be, he has 
not the feelings of a Pennsylvania!!. No — you 
are not willing to submit to foreign dictation, and 
neither was Joseph Ritner. And again, when the 
disastrous experiments on the currency terminated 
in its destruction and the stoppage of the banks, 
did not Ritner promptly issue his proclamation, 
warning them lo resume as soon as the crisis 
should be passed; and the moment it was passed 
by the defeat of the Sub-Treasury Bill, did he not 
calf upon them to resume? Thus proving himself 
independent of the Banks, of party, and of the 
federal corruptions of Van Buren! He has been 
faithful lo the woid Independence, and the glori- 
ous word Liberty, heaven descended Liberty— is 
not that also applicable to him in its true sense? — 
Can he be otherwise than the friend of Liberty? 
How con he be Joseph Ritner without being a 
freeman, the friend of education, the lover of the 
liberties of his country and of mankind? Let his 
whole life, private as well as public, give the an- 
swer lo this question. 

Now, let us turn to his competitor, David R. 
Porter — the son of a wealthy man, who acquired 
a fortune during the revolutionary war, when oth- 
others spent theirs- A man who had all the op- 
portunilies of education, and who benefitted but 
little by them, for he could not even maintain the 
standing of a petty attorney — a man who has been 
fed, and has grown rich on public money, by fill- 
ing petty offices of profit — a man of no reputation 
for talents, and sea; cely known to the people out 
of his own district — a man who has been only 
conspicuous as an intriguing politician, destitute ot 
all political virtue, and all whose aspirings have 
began and ended with self. In private life, what 
is he? Ah! we are told this is a subject too delicate 
to be touched — private character has nothing to do 
with political pietension! No — this is not true — 
the man who claims the suffrages of the people 
must bare his bosom to the probe — if he cannot 
stand it he must retire. We meddle not with the 
private characters of private men. The character 
of Porter is not even equivocal — there are those 
who will follow me that will be more explicit. He 
can lay no claim to the word Virtue. To the word 
Liberty in some srnse he may lay claim; but it is 
the liberty the wolf t?kes with the lamb — such lib- 
erty as is shown by the man who makes free with 
the earnings of others— sr,ch liberty as is taken by 

of the insolvent law, and come3 out full handed!—* 
Men of Pennsylvania! is your State so poor in em- 
inent and virtuous citizens, that you can find no 
one to be your chief magistrate who has not been 
the tenant of a jail, and who does not labor under 
the imputation of fraudulent insolvency? Can you 
consent to such a degradation? Can you, without a 
mighty struggle support such a man to administer 
a government whose motto is Virtue, Liberty and 
independence? 1 cannot think it possible. 

But there is another word by which he must be 
tried — the word 'independence.' Is David R. Pors 
ter the free and spontaneous choice of Pennsylva* 
nia, or of any party in the State? No — he is ihe 
choice of the office holders at Washington, that ho 
may be the submissive tool to do their bidding — 
He is nominated by them, and if elected it will be 
by their influence, against the wishes of the real 
people of Pennsylvania. It is well known with 
what reluctance he has been accepted by the party, 
the better part of which are ashamed of his pri- 
vate character; in general they detest the sub trea- 
sury scheme, and yet the issue is tendered on this 
question, so that if, by any possibility, Porter shall 
he elected, Van Buren may pretend to claim the 
sanction of Pennsylvania for the renewal of his 
odious project. Nothing retains them in the sup- 
port of Porter but the idea of fidelity lo the party. 
Fidelity to party, the curse of the present day, in 
preference to fidelity to the country — that following 
of bell-wethers — were the bells shifted to the necks 
of wolves, still the faithful of the party would con- 
tinue to follow its well-known tinklings. I call 
upon those adherents of Van Buren who may be in 
my hearing, and I conjure them, by their love of 
country, by their respect for virtue, by their ab- 
horrence of the Sub-Treasury seheme^o come forth 
and take their station at once under this azure stan. 
dard, which waves from the boughs of these trees, 
and on which the words Virtue, Liberty and In- 
dependence are inscribed in golden letters! The 
tree of liberty itself is in danger — not from "the 
tempest or the breeze," but from the canker worm 
of corruption at its root. But the worm will be 
destroyed, and the heaven descended plant will 
flourish again as gloriously as ever; its boughs 
will afford a resting place to the birds of the air, 
and its shade, repose and shelter to man, and to the 
things created for his use. 

We have been too much deceived by names, by 
superficial, specious, and deceitful hopes and pro- 
mises; by hollow professions, by false dogma, in- 
tended to produce a momentary delusion. Many 
of them, and their authors, whether they be agra- 
rians, Loco Focos, or politicians by profession, or 
any other of those "cankers of a calm world," 
whose great object is to live on the earnings and 
industry of other citizens, have been already placed 
on the shelf. True democracy consists in equal 
laws and equal rights, protecting the sober and ins 
duslrious pursuit of every one, and securing him the 
enjoyment of his own, under a government of his 
choice. From my boyhood I have been a demo- 
crat, and prefer it to any other political name, even 
the more ancient one of Whig, because it expresses 
a meaning nearer in accordance with my ideas of 
free government- It conveys the idea of a govern- 
merit emanating from the people, and established 

[ 6 ] 

a hereditary source for the benefit of a privileged 
and fortunate class, whose right to offices and hon* 
ors from their very birth, is established and recog- 
nized by the laws. It conveys the idea of a go- 
vernment of the people; established by them for 
their own benefit and which they are at liberty to 
change, when it ceases to answer the purposes of 
its creation. It conveys the idea of the free choice 
of men as public servants responsible to the people, 
and removable at their pleasure when they ceass to 
give satisfaction. Is there any of you who is not a 
democrat on these terms? Do you not consider it a 
piece of unexampled insolence in those who pre^ 
sume to stigmatise you with the names of federal- 
its, aristicrats, or bankites, because you dare con- 
demn the conduct of your public servants in office? 
That the term federalist, should at this day be used 
as a word of reproach at all, is a gross insult to the 
understandings of the people, by those who so use 
it. I may say this, who never belonged to the fed- 
eral party, who have been the uniform supporter if 
Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and even of Jackson 
when he began his administration, but as I could 
not swallow "the whole hog," he struck at me, and 
I kicked at him, and we were even. The name 
of federalist is harmless in itself, and it is only oth- 
erwise when used as a term of vague unmeaning 
reproach, addressed to the ears of supposed ignor- 
ance. And do you not feel indignant at this be 
trayal of 60 poor an opinion of your understandings? 
The term in itse'f only means an attachment to 
our federal constitution, under which the States are 
bound together in this glorious confederacy. If il 
can be applied to any one reproachfully,it is to those 
distinguished leaders of modern democracy, who 
were conspicuous in the ranks of federalism, when 
it had a distinct existence as a party. There is so 
little sense or meaning in the term at present, that 
I once heard a newly made citizen,' who had not 
baen long enough amongst us to be acquainted with 
the history of parties, say to one of our native young 
men, "you are a federalist, and your father was a 
federalist before you, in the revolutionary war." 

No one will deny, that Thomas Jefferson was a 
demccrat in theory and in practice, both in his 
opinions and habits. But the habits of men speak 
a stronger language than profession, as actions 
speak more than words. Let us compare his de- 
mocracy with that of the chief of modern patent 
democracy, Mr Van Buren. When Mr Jefferson 
went to the capital at Washington, he rode on horse 
back and fastened the bridle to a post. Now, how 
does democratic Mr Van Buren appear abroad? 
After making every allowance for the progress of 
luxury, this democrat follows too closely in "ihe 
footsteps" of European sovereigns for my taste. He 
goes abroad in his coach and lour, with footmen 
behind, postillions before, and outriders on every 
aide! But modern democracy it may be said, has 
grown high minded; it is no longer the vulgar and 
grovelling thing it used to be; like Jack, in Swift's 
tale of a tub, it "mounts a high horse, and eats cus- 
tard" Even that satire on the human species, 
Amos Kendall it is said, rides in his coach! And 
certes, if we may judge from some recent occurs 
renccs, which have taken place in the course of the 
present year, in Great British, a very wonderful 
change has come over the spirit of this dr eam of 

little longer, I will relate it, although a some- 
what light affair; but feathers, and straws and such 
things, serve to show how the wind blows; and I 
must confess, that our modern double refined de- 
mocracy has a most marvellous squinting towards 

You all know that a splendid pageant has lately 
been exhibited in London, to the admiring eyes of 
all Europe, in the coronation of England's young 
and beautiful little Queen. I wish her well, and 
that she may reign if her people will it, and may 
her reign be prosperous and happy. I am an ad- 
mirer of the fair sex, as far as a married man 
may be, andj if compelled to submit to a sovs 
reign, I think I should prefer a Queen, and spe- 
cially such an one as Victoria is said to be. In*, 
deed I think it fortunate we are not permitted by 
our constitution to elect a President for four years 
from that captivating sex, and with reason, for if 
one ofour fair countrywomen were President, in- 
stead of Mr Van Buren I fear there would be little 
to expect against her from this gallant young men's 
convention. I am not so certain that I would even 
trust myself. I might feel like the Poet Anacreon, 

"My locks are old, but my heart is young," 
and not so very old — I am only one of Dr Frank- 
lins young men of fifty. But this is not to the pur* 
pose. The pageant referred to, one so important to 
hereditary rank and power, displayed in the first 
nation of the civilized world, naturally awakened 
the deepest interest among all the established mon- 
archies of Europe. Kings' sons, the highest dig- 
nitaries accompanied by the most gorgeous reti-« 
nues, were deputed to take part and to assist at 
that important ceremony. Hitherto our Presidents, 
from the time of Washington, down to the present 
lay, had shown no particular and especial interest 
in such displays, so little in unison with our demo* 
cratic feelings and principles. They had been con- 
tent to restrict our national intercourse, to such 
matters of business, as were necessary to establish 
a good understanding in our mutual trade, and in 
our settlement of such differences as might arise 
between us. But Mr Van Buren has changed all 
this. Why should he not send his son on a 
special mission, to join the throng of hereditary 
greatness and power, as well as other kings* And 
why should not his genealogy from Adam be as 
good as theirs? Accordingly autograph letters are 
made out tor his eldest son, and heir apparent Mr 
John Van Buren! The young man repairs to Lon- 
don to take part in the humbug, is graciously re- 
ceived, and it is said that our prince John was ac- 
tually paired off with the Duke de Nemours, one of 
the sons of the King of France, who represented 
his father on that brilliant occasion. 

Whether this was intended as a compliment to 
Prince John or as a slur on the descendant of 
Mods. Egalile, I will not pretend to say. It has 
been even hinted that there was some little rivalry 
in the case; John being noticed in a most flatter 
ing manner by the little Queen, who invited him 
to take a seat beside her and tell some yankee sto-> 
rfae! For my part, I do not think any thing very 
serious will grow out of this thing — there arc too 
many obstacles in the way, and 1 therefore do not 
agree with some persons that Mr. Van Buren has 
had it in view to strengthen his chance of rcselec- 

[ 7 ] 

has been but too successful in obtaining foreign 
aid from another quarter. Bui, fellow citizen?, are 
you not ashamed and indignant that our country 
should be made a laughing stock in the eyes of 
the world? Can you applaud the conduct of Mr. 
Van Buren, in sending this little democralic jack- 
daw to strut among the peacocks of royally? I do 
not wish to speak of the young man too harshly; 
I am even pleased with some cleverness reported 
of him, which proves, that like the celebrated Gil- 
pin, he is not without "a ready wit." When some 
of the sprigs of nobility attempted to pluck a fea- 
ther from his tail by unseasonable inquiries about 
his pedigree, he is said to have replied, " I am de- 
scended from Kinderhook" — u 'pon honor, from 
Kinderhook, an Indian king, I suppose." 

And this is the democracy of Mr. Van Buren! 
Such a democracy must be entirely new to the most 
of you, and yet, this is the democracy of the Pre- 
sident of the United Slates, and of course of such 
of his followers as are near him, and who under- 
take to distribute the new fire of democracy from 
the centre to the remotest parts of the country. It 
was the custom among the Sunworshippers, the 
ancient Peruvians, once a year, to put out all their 
fires, which were again rekindled by fire distribu- 
ted from the temple of Cusco ; but now, every man 
kindles his own fire, on his own hearth, and it is my 
most earnest prayer, that the time may come when 
every man in our country will kindle thejire of demo- 
cracy; and this can only be effected by education, 
and the general diffusion of information. My hopes 
are in the young men of our country — they have 
outgrown, and the beardless youth, just coming on, 
are fast outgrowing this spurious democracy, Jack- 
sonism, Van Buienism, Bentonism, Calhounism, 
and all their baleful fallacies and deceptions. 

Before I conclude this address, I will give you 
a little piece of reminiscence of the olden time, 
connected with the spot on which we are assembled. 
It will be substantially true, as to the details, there 
may be some embroidery. Directly in front of the 
spot I now occupy, in my early day, there was an 
open common. Instead of being covered, as it is 
now, by rows of houses, stores, and canal basins, 
the only building on it, was the Dutch Lutheran 
Church. But this common was the scene of the 
most interesting events ; it was the race ground, 
and in early times, the races were not second in 
importance and animation, with every man, wo- 
man, and child, to the election contests, which are 
so exciting at the present day. Not far from this, 
a large segment of the circular path, was crossed 
in two places by a piece of sunken ground, in which 
after rains, as it happened to be the case at the pe- 
riod referred to, the water sometimes formed a 
slough' The church was inside, and not far from 
the foet of Grant's Hill, and near it, stood the dis- 
tance pole, and sixty yards further, the starting and 
winning post. One of the annual races, which I 
shall never forget, had produced great excitement, 
and persons far and near repaired to witness the 
animating struggle. A race, at all times, has 
something in it peculiarly democratic ; no one 
ever presumes to claim the purse on account of the 
pedigree of his horse, but because it is fairly due 
to his speed and bottom; it matters not whether he 
be out of the Flying Childers, Godolphin Arabian, 
or John Patterson's gray marc. Now, on the 

rel mare, Bob Hays' bay horse, and several others 
not necessary to mention, as they either flew the 
course, were distanced, or broke the necks of their 
riders. The judges of the race were Gen. Presley 
Neville, General John WilkinB, and John Darragh, 
citizens universally esteemed for their sound judg- 
ment and high integrity. Not fur from this, on 
one of the farms of Gen. O'Hara, there lived an 
honest German farmer, of the name of Nyman, 
whose son, a most worthy man, now keeps a livery 
stable in this city. Nyman, who was the owner 
of a faithful Conestoga wagon horse, well built and 
of powerful bone and muscle, bethought him of en- 
tering for the purse as well as the rest. He ac- 
cordingly came forward to the judges and tendered 
his money, they endeavored to dissuade him — 
"what," said they, "enter yonr old wagon and 
farm horse, who has bad no regular keeping, and 
has never beeu trained to racing." "No matter," 
said Nyman — " tis a free country — my horse has 
a right to try what he can do, so well as oder hor- 
ses — if he wins le purse, gute — if he lose, no mat- 
ter" — So Conestoga was entered with the rest, not, 
however, without being subjected to some good 
jokes on aceount of his ruslicily and Dutch extract 
tion. The word go — was given, the sorrel gallant- 
ly led the way — the bay followed, Conestoga in 
the rear of ah, until the last round of the first heat, 
when, to the surprise of every one, he saved his 
distance — the sorrel foremost, and the bay not far 
behind. The contest suddenly became animated-— 
"two hundred dollars on the sorrel," shouted WiU 
Ham Wilkins — "I stand by Billy Wilky," hoarse* 
ly shouted Ned Patchell — "one hundred dollars 
on the bay," roared Bob Hays — no bet was offered 
on honest Conestoga. The second heat was again 
led for some time by the sorrel, but on the se- 
cond round, the bay shot ahead, Conestoga gain- 
ing fast on the sorrel, so that the last that was 
seen of them from the winning post, (the church 
hiding them from view) the whole three, were 
not far apart; but no sooner had they re-appear, 
ed at the distance pole, than Conestoga was 
ahead of all, and actually came out foremost! 
All stood for a moment, in silent amazement — the 
high spirited, chivalrous Wilkins, like, 

"Stout Gloster stood aghast in sleepless trance," 
many an unrecorded oath was sworn by Bob Hays, 
who raised aloft his double loaded whip, but no one 
cared to approach his ire. Some declared that Con- 
estoga had lept over the church, and affidavit men 
offered their services, but were not wanted. To 
shorten my story, the old wagon horse took the 
third heat with all ease, and the purse was awarded 
him. Now as I have been all my life something of 
a Philosopher; that is, prone to look into the causes 
of things, 1 was led to inquire how it came, that a 
plain old farm horse should take the purse from 
steeds of such high importations. You will recol- 
lect the Slough of Despond, I have described as 
crossing the race path; now when the regular cour- 
sers with their slender shanks had to go through the 
water and mud, their speed was suddenly checked, 
while the powerful strength of the winner carried 
him through with as much ease as on the level 
ground; he kept the even tenor of his way without 
any apparent increase or diminution of speed, he 
was the same thing when he came out as when he 
started. To you, young men of Pennsylvania, I now 
commend the moral of my story. Cunning, like a 
quarter nag, may run Us little race, but cannot re- 

[ 8 J 




We invite attention to the following interesting 
and important letter from the pen of that sturdy 
patriot and unwavering democrat, John Andrew 
Sjhulze. It is in reply to a communication ad- 
dressed him by a number of our most respectable 
citizens, aud alludes, as will be perceived, to the 
political struggle about to take place in Pennsylva- 
ma. It cannot but produce a powerful sensation, 
especially among the old democrats of this Com- 
monwealth, who twice contributed to the election 
of Us author to the highest honor of the Key-Stone 
State, and Who know that a citizen retired from 
public life and anxious only for the welfare of his 
country, could have no other motive than patriots 
ism, — no other object than the "greatest good of 
the greatest number," in thus deliberately express- 
ing his sentiments upon the eve of an important 
political struggle. The testimony of John Andrew 
Shulze, at such a crisis, is indeed entitled to the 
consideration of every true-hearted Pennsylvanian. 
He has no personal feelings to gratify, — no mortified 
vanity to indulge, — no patron at Washington to 
fawn before and kneel to. His views are those of 
a feartess freeman, — a patriot who loves Pennsylva- 
nia, and is anxious for her honor, independence 
and prosperity. We commend the letter to gene- 
ral attention. It is frank, fearless and to the pur- 
pose. — Phil. Inq. 

Montoursville, Lycoming County 
August 29, 1838. 

Fellow-Citizens — Before the receipt of your let- 
ter I had heard that it had been represented that 
I was opposed to the releclion of Governor Ritner, 
and I had been requested to make known my opin- 
ion. An unwillingness to obtrude myself upon 
public attention, and a fear that I might be thought 
presumptuous, prevented me from publishing my 
opinions in any other way than by making them 
known to such of my neighbors or Iriendsas called 
upon me for that purpose. They all know that I 
have never hesitated to express a preference for Jo- 
seph Ritner over David R. Porter. I have no un- 
kind feelings or personal unfriendliness towards 
Mr. Porter. I am wholly influenced in my oppo- 
sition to him, by public principles He is nomina- 
ted and advocated by those who declare they have 
entire confidence in the principles, patriotism and 
talents of Mr. President Van Bnren, while I have 
no confidence in the qualities thus attributed to 
Mr. Van Buren. I have never seen any evidence 
that Mr. Van Buren has any fixed principles, any 
patriotism or talents. I well remember in the war 
of 1812, that Mr. Van Buren was opposed to the 

election of the wise, the gifted, and the patriotic 
James Madison, and was strongly in favor of De 
Witt Clinton, who was the "Peace Party" candi-« 
date. I know nothing of Mr. Van Buren calcu- 
lated to inspire confidence. He has trod too exactly 
in the "steps of his predecessor," and seems dis- 
posed, by his sub-treasury scheme, to dip a little 
deeper into the pockets of tfye people. If, by any 
possible contrivance or misrepresentation, Pennsyl- 
vania should elect Mr. Porter Governor, then would 
it be blazoned abroad that the people of this State 
were in favor of the re-election of Mr. Van Buren, 
and a cloud deep and dark would overshadow the 
now bright prospects of the democrats throughout 
the United States. For these and many other rea- 
sons, it shall be my pleasure, as 1 believe it to be 
my duty, to do all in my power to insure the re- 
election of Governor Ritner. I feel assured that 
the desire to sustain our good old Constitution,will 
bring thousands more to the polls than ever yet vos 
ted at any election, and I have entire confidence 
that the work of the good men ©f the Revolution 
will not be laid aside, to take up and adopt the 
piece of patchwork which was put together by the 
late generally condemned Convention. The Ger- 
mans of Pennsylvania will hold fast what they know 
to be good. They know the honesty and straight 
forward policy ot Joseph Ritner, and tbey will 
support him. They know he is a good Pennsylva- 
nian, and that with economy and care, he watches 
over the interests of the State and the people- — 
They will not cast away what they have tested, 
what they know to be good, to try experiments with 
constitutions or with men, which may turn out to 
be good for nothing. My correspondence has been 
extensive, and my other opportunities good, and I 
do assure you that I have the utmost confidence in 
the re-election of Governor Ritner. I have said 
more than I intended, but perhaps not more than 
is necessary to give you a clear idea of the princi- 
ples which influence my conduct, and give me such 
confident hope. This triumph will be followed by 
one still more important, the election of a genuine 
democratic President in 1840. Your letter of the 
18th inst. only reached me yesterday. I have 
complied with your wishes, and communicated 
my views on the questions now agitating the 
State, with candor, and my entire conviclien. 
With much respect, i remain, 
Your obedient servant, 

To John L. Woolf, J. Washington Tyson, Joel 
Cook, Geo. R. Smith, Esqrs.